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Right off the bat, you know you’re in for a good episode of Justified when you have a suave U.S. Marshall like Raylan Givens deal with the most white trash of white trash families in the history of white trash families to be personified in a TV show. And not only were all the members of this particular clan just the epitome of rude, crude, I-don’t-give-a-french-toast-about-dying bottom feeders who live off deceit and disability checks, Raylan had company in this first step of the mystery of Waldo Truth’s bag.
The only reason I didn’t already harp on how much I love the law types Givens works alongside in this series in my previous review is only because they weren’t in last week’s episode. Not only was I rewarded with a priceless scene where Raylan’s boss, Chief Deputy Art, proclaimed to his friend that his subordinates are more dangerous than the fugitives they capture, but it seems that the bossman also has some history to resolve with that shady bag.
Thus, we were treated to an episodic mission of investigating Waldo Truth’s…”unique” family with Raylan, Art, and the coolheaded sniper Tim on the scene. Watching these three stooges play off their character tropes was especially great when it was already apparent that Art and Tim are suspecting Raylan of foul play in lieu of his bun in the oven. The writers made a wise choice of not having anyone immediately assume that Givens’ side job in bounty hunting as seen last week as it would be far too soon; but I just loved that everyone in the office is apparently making bets for what Raylan is earning baby money from including “exotic dancing.”
Raylan’s story here was great, but I think Boyd Crowder’s little adventure was actually better for being more fulfilling for his (amazing) character.
The show took no time in displaying how the religious cult was a far more menacing beast than enemies from the past. The look of sheer shock as Crowder watched his bar hideout being taken over by children passing around those fake, Praise-God dollars/advertisements pretty much solidified that this new organization isn’t messing around.
And was there any better way for Boyd to strike back at the Jesus-loving brainwashers than for him to lash back with what he does best: talking. Sincere praise simply must be given to actors Walton Goggins and Joe Mazzello as Boyd and Preacher Billy as they continuously lashed out at one another during one of the cult’s sermons.
But what made this moment brilliant was how it seemed like Boyd was doing this also for the sake of making peace for his own failure of a religious pursuit way back in season one. It was a disastrous moment that cemented how ill-prepared the character was in playing the leader that would only be perfected by the latter half of season two. As Boyd was screaming out Bible quotes to wake up the deceived junkies, it was less about him trying to get his drug-buying clients back than it was his desperate plea to not have any other people in his town die a pointless death for the sake of religious idealism like his own followers did. But, in a sure-fire dick move, Billy won the support of his followers by presenting the one thing a carpet dagger can always win with, free service.
Still, it was incredibly satisfying as we saw Boyd walk out from the scene with a grin on his face with the realization that it was actually the sister from behind-the-scenes who is clearly pulling all the strings. Also, we got to finish off Boyd’s episode arc with him trying to earn back his credibility by trying to form a partnership with the always great Wynn Duffy! The epic scene where the two clearly didn’t seem to trust or understand each other only made me want to see a compromise made just to see more of their hubris clash splendidly.
Two episodes in and I’m already sold on this season. One of the major issues from previous seasons was how the storyline progression never seemed to gel that well due to the fact that there clearly wasn’t enough meat for a main story to last 12 hour-long episodes, thus leading to numerous filler episodes being mixed in.
I know it’s too early to make a statement like that, but it already seems like the writers have finally “got it” with having two great storylines with the mystery bag and the religious cult arcs. Not only did this episode display both sides masterfully, but there were also some hints of both sides meshing together at some point with Boyd curious to see why Arlo killed that prisoner.
However, this episode sadly wasn’t perfect. In the end, I just fail to see why there are scenes here with Raylan playing lovey-dovey with the manager of the bar he has taken residence in. While the two do have a sense of chemistry, in the end the whole affair just seems pointless once Winona gives birth to her and Raylan’s child. Though I am interested to see how Raylan will handle the bulky husband of the manager as the next episode preview spent plenty of time on that.